Writing for the Blog

We welcome three types of blog post, based primarily on:

  1. An article that you have published in Evidence & Policy, with a focus on policy and practice. We encourage all authors of Evidence & Policy articles to promote their key messages in this way.
  2. A short review of a book relevant to Evidence & Policy readers.
  3. Topical blog posts that inform readers about new elements of policy and practice relevant to Evidence & Policy.

Ideally, to suit a busy reader, posts should be as close as possible to 600 words. However, we accept that some topics or tasks are too complex to stick rigidly to a short word limit. There is some assistance available to help you meet our general guidelines, but subject to delay if your post requires major editing (in other words, we offer a service more akin to the LSE blogs than The Conversation). You can minimise delay by sticking to two general principles:

First, assume that you are speaking to a non-specialist audience. Try to make an argument that will capture the attention of a more general audience, interested in policymaking and the role of evidence, that might access your post from Twitter/ Facebook or via a search engine. Adapt your writing style to your audience, such as by reducing the lengths of sentences and size of paragraphs (for example, remember that many people read posts on their phones) and using weblinks rather than in-text citation. Explain the importance of your research area (and contribution to it), rather than simply citing other work on the general topic. Minimise specialist technical language and jargon (or explain its meaning and value). Accept that most people reading the blog post will not read the article, which requires you to produce a post that makes sense as a stand-alone piece of work.

Second, avoid treating the exercise as a detective novel with a big reveal. Choose a catchy and tweetable title to generate sufficient interest to read further. Provide a hook in the first sentence, and assume that you only have a few hundred words in which to show your work (and encourage some to read the longer report). Assume that people will not read your work unless you present the take-home message up front. This advice also helps boost interest among specialists: a concise account of your contribution to the field could make a difference between reading and citing your article now, or putting it in a large folder of articles that may never be read.

Posts based on articles in Evidence & Policy

There are many posts giving good general advice on connecting published articles to blog posts, including How to write a blogpost from your journal article in eleven easy steps. However, we suggest one modification: use a blank document and focus on what to include in your post, rather than what to remove from an 8000-word article. For example, minimise discussion of methods (perhaps to include the type of study and numerical description of articles reviewed or interviews conducted), and do not include a lengthy literature review (instead, explain the importance of your topic in a small number of sentences).

Patrick Dunleavy provides good additional direction, including:

  1. Provide a ‘tweetable’ title that sums up your main finding or take-home message.
  2. Provide a ‘trailer’ paragraph that sums up the whole argument in a few sentences.
  3. Begin the main text by engaging the reader with a ‘hook’, with reference to a research puzzle, policy problem, key statistic, or other motivation to read and learn more.
  4. Describe your main finding in a clear and concise way, avoiding the urge to describe a mysterious hypothesis flowed by a big reveal.
  5. Include one or more charts or table to visualise or summarise key arguments. Any images must comply with copyright law and must not identify people without consent.
  6. End the post decisively, in a way that sums up your argument memorably.
  7. Provide a relevant short biography which links to your institutional page, personal blog, and a means to contact you (such as via Twitter or email).

Posts based on book reviews or live topics

This general advice applies largely to the other types of posts, but with some small differences:

  • Common advice on book reviews (such as the LSE Review of Books) suggests that they should be longer than traditional posts. However, we warn against taking this advice too far, since the post length relates primarily to the motivation of your readers, not the size of your task. A key insight, explored frequently in Evidence & Policy, is to focus on the demand for information rather than simply the supply.
  • A post on a live topic will likely not be connected to a published article, which necessitates a greater need to provide a relevant ‘hook’ in relation to common themes explored in Evidence & Policy (for example, see Ten quick ways to generate a blog post). Ideally, to demonstrate the relevance of your post to the journal’s themes, you should connect your post to at least one article published in the journal.

How to submit

Please send your draft blog to michaelagh.broadbent@ed.ac.uk along with the information in our blog submission checklist.

  • 1 sentence summary for target audience (usually policy or practice)
  • Blog title that summarises key argument or poses central question in fewer than 10 words.
  • Draft post of 600 words, written in an accessible style
  • Suggestion for copyright compliant headline image
  • Any other images that you want to appear in the blog (along with copyright assurances)
  • Key author info (name, role and institutional affiliation and contact details (this could be email address or Twitter handle). At least one author must provide contact details.
  • Images of author(s).
  • The Twitter handles of all relevant authors (as well as the handles of relevant people to contact)

Acceptance is at the discretion of the Editorial team. The Social Media Editor will review the submission for tone, style and accessibility, before passing the submission to the wider editorial team, who will assess the content. You may receive suggestions for improving the blog at both stages. We aim to complete this process within two weeks.